Garbo: The Spy
The Spaniard Joan Pujol Garcia (1912–88), alias Garbo, is thought to be the only double agent of the Second World War who was awarded both the Order of the British Empire and the Iron Cross of the National Socialists. Garbo made a crucial contribution to D-Day by deliberately passing to the German side false information about the planned landing site of the Allies in a plausible way using a whole network of fictive agents. This all but incredible story, based on a book by the British espionage expert Rupert Allason alias Nigel West, Operation Garbo: The Personal Story of the Most Successful Spy of World War II, is told by director Edmon Roch, who mixes fictional scenes from legendary spy thrillers with historical archival materials in an exciting and ironic way. The unerring American film critic Roger Ebert accused the director of an excess of imagination. Nevertheless, the film won a Goya, the Spanish national film prize, for best documentary film in 2010. It has been shown at numerous international festivals and acquired by BBC Storyville, but it has never been shown in Germany. For the fiftieth anniversary of D-Day, Garbo: The Spy provides an opportunity to discuss the supposedly matter-of-fact mix of truth and fiction and the meaning of (hi)story in the genre of contemporary documentary film.
Edmon Roch is a journalist and holds a PhD in art history. He has written, directed and produced five short films, amongst them the multi-award winning Blood (1994). As a screenwriter, his works include Away from the flock about the British artist Damien Hirst (1994), Tic, Tac, directed by Rosa Vergés (1996), smalls for Immi Pictures (1998) and more recently, Mia Sarah directed by Gustavo Ron (2006). His credits as a producer include: Whit Stillman’s Barcelona (1994); Fernando Colomo’s The Butterfly Effect (1995); Jean-Jacques Annaud’s Seven Years in Tibet (1997) (where he served as UPM); and Whit Stillman’s The Last Days of Disco (1998). He line-produced the first and third films of Peter Greenaway’s trilogy The Tulse Luper Suitcases (2002/4), and was Delegate Producer of Tom Tykwer’s Perfume (2006). He has also co-produced Sönke Wortmann’s Pope Joan, and is the producer of Daniel Benmayor’s Bruc, Andrucha Waddington’s Lope and Enrique Gato’s Tadeo Jones 3D. Garbo:The Spy is his first long-feature film as a director.